I saw a concert with a chamber group of Alliage Quintett (4 saxophones and one piano) and Sabine Meyer on the clarinet
They did a marvelous version of Firebird that blown me away. I thought maybe the work has finally clicked.
After the concert I listened to the original full ballet orchestrated version and I realised that the reason why I liked the work so much wasn't because the work clicked but because the chamber music was an arrangement of the Firebird Suite instead of the full ballet and fixes majority of my major gripe of the work.
The improvements I've heard from the chamber music arrangement of the firebird suite was:
- Cutting down the dead weight of music from about 30 minutes to 18 minutes. The numbers that remain are the best moments of the ballet such as the marvelous folk melody of the Khorovode, the innovative exciting rhythmic development section of the Infernal Dance of King Kaschel, the beautiful mysterious atmosphere of Berceuse and the barnstorming rhythmic assymetrical finale of the ballet. Going straight from great moments within the ballet to another makes it far more enjoyable than the irritating great music sandwitch between annoying moments.
the movements by the way is
Introduction – The Firebird and its dance – The Firebird's variation
The Princesses’ Khorovod (Rondo, round dance)
Infernal dance of King Kashchei
This seems to coincide with the ""Concert Suite for Orchestra No. 2" selection of the ballet
- Clear discrete movements instead of misguided attempts of continuous music. It's not like Stravinsky is some sort of masterful German developmental composer, he is from the Russian tradition of emphasising thematic material. Cutting out the transitional moments makes it sound like a coherent collection of self contained pieces of music with beautiful themes (aka like Mussorgsky Pictures At An Exhibition. Which while isn't on the same standard as German developmental music, at least get credit for being adequate and writing within his limitations and working with his strength as a composer) instead of disjointed sounding music that attempts to be continuous. That's the benefit of dividing your work in distinct numbers instead of an attempt of a singular music drama
- The transitional moments in the original piece of music absolutely blow with it's overt dissonant harmony for the sake of story telling. Removing it makes the piece far more listenable and entertaining to listen. Really isn't entertainment the basis of all great art and the only thing that elevates art higher than pHD thesis like written essays?
Of course it's not perfect. The first movement Introduction still sucks with it's aimless "atmospheric" attempt dissonance
So the Firebird Suite is about a 3 star composition while the original full ballet is about a 1 to 2 star composition.
Although I'm not too sure I should count the Suite in my classical music ranking because I should judge work based on the full work not the abridged version.